Different cultures have distinct behaviors when it comes to nutrition. Due to the varieties in cultural beliefs, values, and norms, communities have continued to practice different nutritional habits throughout the course of history. It is not even clear to some members of a community why some of these risk behaviors have to be followed, but they are legitimized parts of culture. Some of the high-risk nutritional behaviors will be observed in this paper through the examination of cultures and sub-cultures.
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It remains a major challenge to note that some people obliviously cling to these traditions without keenly researching to find out the health and other risks accrued to these risky behaviors. This paper will explore the different high-risk nutritional practices of communities around the world, their historical background, risks, and causes. A person’s feeding behavior is usually related to their psychological, social, and biological personalities derived from the culture, spiritual beliefs, education levels, and family interactions in their environment.
These behaviors are “acquired during childhood, developed in adolescence, and upheld to maturity, becoming part of one’s way of life” (Fade, 2014). In this paper, we will look into some of the high-risk dietary behaviors practiced in ten different cultures around the world, including Hispanic cultures, the Haitians, Asian-Americas, Nomadic Africans, New Zealand people, and the working-class people.
In the Hispanic culture, the adults have a lower death rate than their non-Hispanic counterparts do. However, the age between 15 to 24 years in the Hispanic community records a higher mortality rate than their non-Hispanic members, prompting the question of whether the trend could be caused by the high-risk nutritional behaviors. The leading causes of death among the Dominicans, Colombians, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans are heart disease and cancer.
The Dominicans and Colombians have a logical link to obesity a risk factor that is involved with very many other health conditions. High obesity is associated with metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and asthma, among others. The total fat intake among Hispanics is higher than normal (Nutrition Society, 2014). Cholesterol intake among the Hispanics, especially the Guatemalans and Salvadorans, has been closely connected to family ties. High fat and cholesterol intake, coupled with minimal exercises, are the leading factors for obesity, which cause uniform health issues within family settings.
A heart study research conducted within San Antonio, California, showed that Hispanic men consumed more saturated fats than their white counterparts. In addition, over the years, Hispanics, especially the Dominicans, have been associated with a high intake of carbohydrates and proteins. Some of the foods that are popular among the Hispanic cultural occasions are red meat, cheese, cured meats, and fried foods.
The health risk of Hispanics is compounded by the fact that in most cultures smoking and drinking among men is considered a sign of maturity and masculinity. One of the reasons it is believed that the Hispanics have adopted this kind of lifestyle is the changing roles of society where the mothers are increasingly venturing into white-collar jobs and have less time to make nutrition a priority.
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The fifth community is the Haitian. The culture of the Haitians is linked to several high-risk nutritional behaviors. The community upholds being plus-sized as a sign of affluence and prestige within the society. Among the Haitians, being overweight is seen as being healthy and luxurious, while being thin indicates being poor, unhealthy, and miserable. The reason why the Haitians have such a nutritionally warped tradition is due to the corrosion of their initial culture as they adopted education and assimilation into the United States culture (Nutrition Society, 2014).
Coupled with the above risk the Haitians rarely participate in strenuous activities that could act as platforms for exercise due to their mid-level economic status. Furthermore, the people have no time or consideration for going to the gym and they take that as a luxury for the reserved elite. The conservative Haitians do not seek medical assistance whenever in medical problems unless the situation escalates to uncontrollable levels. The Haitians believe that a human being can eat anything so long as it does not make them sick to a level where they cannot work (Barker & Pilbeam, 2015). As a result, the community exposes themselves to many risk behaviors such as alcohol consumption.
Historically, African-Americans have been involved with food rites during various occasions. Some of the practices exercised by this community are potentially harmful to the well-being of the people in those communities. The diet of these cultures is marred with foods that are low in fiber, calcium, and potassium but high in fat. As a result, these people are predisposed to health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity (Wiseman, 2012).
The economic status of this community is increases it high-risk nutritional behaviors. Henceforth, the communities do not have many nutritional choices other than what they have already been used to when it comes to nutritional behaviors. The economic status of this culture does not allow them to pay very keen attention to their mode of eating, and the nutritional value of their food. The preparation of foods is done through deep-frying, home baking barbecuing and serving foods with gravies and sauces. Some of these methods such as deep-frying are risky to the health of the people as they make them consume many fats and sometimes eat poorly cooked foods.
Another emerging culture is that of the working class people whose nutritional behaviors are risky to their well-being. In fact, this group of people is considered the most endangered in the whole world today. Most of these people are highly educated but very busy to mind whatever they eat or drink. Besides, some of the individuals in this group are alcoholics, smoker, and drug abusers as that is the best way they know of relieving life’s pressures (Fade, 2014).
These people consistently feed on low nutrient food while excessively consuming non-healthy foods such as unprocessed meats, processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, saturated fat, trans-fat, dietary cholesterol, and sodium. Such a condition might also be caused by the fact that there are other more pressing issues to resolve than the nutritional value of their food.
The Asian-American culture is also another setting that has its share of the risky dietary behaviors. Most of the Asian-American individuals on whom a research was carried out prefer to consume processed American foods, which put them in the danger of becoming nutritionally deficient. Some of the reasons why this might be the case are because as busy citizens there is not much time to consider the nutritional quality of food consumed. The pressure derived from their counterparts compels the people to continue neglecting their dietary obligation to be in tandem with their Asian-American student culture. Research shows that girls of this culture are known for having constant feelings of isolation and devaluation of cultural diversity increasing their vulnerability for eating disorders (Halliwell & Gutteridge, 2015).
New Zealand People
The culture of New Zealand people also influences their nutritional welfare. New Zealand is an exporter of dairy products, processed meat, fish, and fruit, which now comprises processed foods like wine, venison, smoked and pickled seafood, cheeses, and yogurt (Lang & Heasman, 2015). As a result, there are not much of the healthy products left in the country to for consumption by the ever-rising population of people.
Furthermore, the people in New Zealand are very much into white-collar employment. The result is that the traditional roles where men would work to provide their families with nutritionally rich dietary supplements and ladies prepared the food have changed so that there is no one to ensure the food provided meets a certain dietary value or to prepare the foods the right way. Foods are made using modern technology and even then, no one cares whether the foods are well prepared or not.
In Kenya, it was shown that the nomadic communities have their set of nutritional behaviors. Nomadic communities are mostly pastoralists, feeding on meat and milk. This eating habit endangers the children especially those aged below five years, most of whom suffer from malnutrition. For example, the Maasai people predominantly feed on blood, raw milk, and bitter herbs, which affect breastfeeding of children below six months. People from these nomadic communities primarily consume cereals and legumes, and their diets are most often than not imbalanced. Nomadic communities are not exposed to many animal products since the animals are viewed as their livelihood and a measure of wealth.
The cattle and other animals are only slaughtered on special occasions, and the children are not given the liberty to eat, as much animal products are required to fulfill their nutritional balance. In addition, the nomadic communities do not encourage the sale of animals. The result of this action is that it limits the amount of money that could be used to buy more food items to promote dietary balance.
Nomadic communities such as the Turkana of East Africa believe that all land is used for animal care such as grazing, hence, cannot carry out crop farming in such land. As a result, the crops available for food diversification is limited and only gained by purchases or exchanges from other communities (Kimiywe, 2015). Some traditions within these communities also prohibit the consumption of such foods as game food fish or chicken, limiting the diversity of the diet among the people.
Food provision in pastoralist communities is entrusted to men. Considering that men are not very close to children traditionally, the quality of food provided does not consider the interest of the children. Due to their remoteness and obstinacy, the culture of this people constricts them to seeking medical help in traditional herbal practitioners, denying them a chance to visit health facilities and get nutrition education.
From the preceding, it is evident how poor eating habits are linked to society’s way of living. It has been observed that a person takes after those they spend most of their time with, and most likely people spend most of their time with those who look alike. From this observation, we can explain why society’s eating habits are passed on from one generation to the other.
Barker, A. V., & Pilbeam, D. J. (2015). Handbook of plant nutrition. Boston: CRC press.
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Fade, S. (2014). Using interpretative phenomenological analysis for public health nutrition and dietetic research: a practical guide. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 63(04), 647-653.
Halliwell, B., & Gutteridge, J. M. (2015). Free radicals in biology and medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, USA.
Kimiywe, J. (2015). Food and nutrition security: challenges of post-harvest handling in Kenya. Proceedings of The Nutrition Society, 74(4), 487-495.
Lang, T., & Heasman, M. (2015). Food wars: The global battle for mouths, minds, and markets. New York: Routledge.
Nutrition Society. (2014). Nutrition society textbook set. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Wiseman, M. (2012). Food, nutrition, physical activity, and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(03), 253-256.